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Robert Eliot Smith Papers, 1929-1983 | Special Collections & University Archives

By Bill Payne

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Collection Overview

Title: Robert Eliot Smith Papers, 1929-1983Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Smith, Robert Eliot (1899-)

Extent: 16.67 Linear Feet

Subjects: Archaeologists--Correspondence, Archaeology--Central America--History--20th century--Sources, Archaeology--Mexico--History--20th century--Sources, Central America--Antiquities, Indian pottery--Central America, Indian pottery--Mexico, Mexico--Antiquities, Smith, Robert Eliot, 1899--Archives, Smith, Robert Eliot, 1899--Correspondence

Forms of Material: Personal Papers

Languages: English, Spanish;Castilian

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection includes Smith's notes and working drafts used for the preparation of his publications, a record of his professional activities as the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Guatemala City representative, photographs of Mesoamerican pottery, and correspondence between Smith and other Mesoamericanists of his time. The collection provides important biographical and collaborative information about Smith, as well as the history of Mesoamerican archaeology. The majority of documents in the collection are not dated, thus (ca.) is used for approximate date.

Series I:  Correspondence: Includes letters, filed alphabetically, to and from many Mesoamerican archaeologists of the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. Also includes circulated and informational correspondence about and between these archaeologists.

Series II: Notes and Drafts: Includes notes and drafts that Smith compiled for research and publication. The majority are written in pencil and some are not discernable as to the exact site or subject, and a number are very detailed or extensive in ceramic data and nomenclature. Folders are separated into four sections by site: Pyramid of the Sun: 1-54; Mayapan: 55-57; Uaxactun: 58-64; and miscellaneous notes and drafts: 65-94

Series III: Professional Activities: Includes material relating to Smith's work with the Carnegie Institute of Washington, Institute Nacional de Antropologia, conferences, and societies.

Series IV: Smith's Publications: Includes Smith's monographs and published articles.

Series V: Publications by Smith's Contemporaries: Alphabetical listing of published articles and monographs in the collection written by Smith's contemporaries. Also included are one folder of Spanish language monographs of various authors and subjects; six folders of miscellaneous scholarly published monographs covering a number of topics, and two folders of newspaper clippings and articles written about various archaeological subjects.

Series VI: Miscellany: Includes items that were not identifiable for other sections in the collection, such as Central American maps, and guide booklets to ruins.

Series VII: Photographs: Includes many photographs, some negatives and slides of Mesoamerican pottery, figurines, and sherds. Each folder is identified by site in alphabetical order, and many of the photographs have written descriptions on the back. One folder, labeled miscellaneous photos, contains a number of unidentified photographs.

Series VIII: Note and Bibliographic Cards: Includes approximately three hundred 3x5, 5x7, and 5x11 index cards describing ceramics. Some have extensive information on particular ceramic pieces. There are also four boxes of bibliographic information cards on a number of Mesoamerican ceramic publications.

Series IX: Oversize: Includes graphic display material, and a site settlement map of Litio de Coba, Quintana Roo.

Biographical Note

Robert Eliot Smith was born in Arcahan, France, on May 24, 1899. He received his primary and secondary education while living in Switzerland and Massauchusetts, and graduated from Harvard University in 1922 with a degree in history and romance languages.

Smith became involved in archaeology in 1929 when he accompanied his brother Ledyard, who was doing fieldwork at Uaxtactun, Guatemala. Smith returned to Harvard and began taking graduate courses in archaeology. He accepted a position with the Carnegie Institution of Washington and spent the next twenty years as the Carnegie's Guatemala City representative.

Smith was a member of the Carnegie Institution from 1932-1960, associate archaeologist for the Instituto Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia de Mexico from 1960-1962, and helped establish the National Museum of Antropologia in Guatemala City. Smith ended his career as a research associate of Middle American ceramics at Harvard University's Peabody Museum from 1965-1968, and as an honorary research associate of that institution until his death in 1983.

Subject/Index Terms

Archaeologists--Correspondence
Archaeology--Central America--History--20th century--Sources
Archaeology--Mexico--History--20th century--Sources
Central America--Antiquities
Indian pottery--Central America
Indian pottery--Mexico
Mexico--Antiquities
Smith, Robert Eliot, 1899--Archives
Smith, Robert Eliot, 1899--Correspondence

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections & University Archives

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine.  Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Preferred Citation: Identification of item, folder title, box number, Robert Eliot Smith Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Notes and Drafts],
[Series 3: Professional Activities],
[Series 4: Smith's Publications],
[Series 5: Contemporary Publications],
[Series 6: Miscellany],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[Series 8: Notes and Bibliographic Cards],
[Series 9: Oversized Materials],
[All]

Series 2: Notes and DraftsAdd to your cart.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Pyramid of the SunAdd to your cart.
Pre-Classic and Classic; modeled and mold made data
Folder 2: Vessel shapes and parts: Detailed AttributesAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Types of DesignsAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Vessel Shapes: appendages, supports, handlesAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Ceramic Complex Modes/AssemblagesAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Early Drafts of Part Three: Ceramic Distribution for Pyramid of the SunAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Pyramid of the Sun, slip color chartsAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Duplicate Tables of Teatihuacan CeramicsAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Pyramid of the Sun polished ware notesAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: Pyramid of the Sun notes from cut I on north side of pyramidsAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Pyramid of the Sun notes and drafts on polished wareAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: Pyramid of the Sun notes and drafts on polished wareAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Pyramid of the Sun drafts on wares types and varietiesAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Notes on Pottery found below Pyramid of the SunAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Notes: Below Pyramid of the SunAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Pyramid of the Sun pottery notes - Early TzacualliAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Pyramid of the Sun pottery notes - Early TlamimilolpaAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Pyramid of the Sun: Background LiteratureAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Pyramid of the Sun: Detailed attribute chartsAdd to your cart.
Folder 20: Pyramid of the Sun WaresAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: Pyramid of the Sun figurinesAdd to your cart.
Folder 22: Pyramid of the Sun late TlamimilolpaAdd to your cart.
Folder 23: Pyramid of the Sun: drafts of part VI, types of designAdd to your cart.
Folder 24: MSS Draft: Part V, methods of decoration, types of designAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Pyramid of the Sun - late TzacualliAdd to your cart.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Box 5Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Seminar in Mexico, 1961Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Figure painting examplesAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: List of artifacts in storeroom of the Institute of Anthropology and History of YucatanAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Maya architecture structures, periodsAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Artifacts: Maya and Valley of MexicoAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Figure painting on potteryAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Bibliography on Maya ReligionAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Maya archaeologyAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Figurine notesAdd to your cart.
Folder 10: Burials and Burial CustomsAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Miscellaneous ceramic dataAdd to your cart.
Folder 12: Chronological chartsAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Pottery informationAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Richard Adam's "The Ceramic Sequence at Altar de Sacrificios", 1963Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Marquez Collection of Fine Orange Ceramics, 1965Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Hippo and Ellie StoryAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: The Study of Latin American CivilizationAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Ceramic description and classificationAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Terminologia y Metodologia de CeramicaAdd to your cart.
Folder 20: Notebook: ceramic attribute notesAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: Smith's miscellaneous writingsAdd to your cart.
Folder 22: A Reappraisal of the Type-Variety ConceptAdd to your cart.
Folder 23: Non-wheel pottery of Chinautla, GuatemalaAdd to your cart.
Folder 24: Notebook: miscellaneous notesAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Notebook on book bindingAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Notes and Drafts],
[Series 3: Professional Activities],
[Series 4: Smith's Publications],
[Series 5: Contemporary Publications],
[Series 6: Miscellany],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[Series 8: Notes and Bibliographic Cards],
[Series 9: Oversized Materials],
[All]


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